Super Eagles Squeak By Stubborn Squirrels In Uyo
By Iwedi Ojinmah 28 days ago
Date: Wednesday, November 13th 2019
Time: 5 PM
Venue: Godswill Akpabio International Stadium aka The Eagles Nest, Uyo
TV: Pending Stream: Caf Youtube
Weather: 31° C RealFeel® 37° Mostly cloudy with a thunderstorm
Super Eagles began their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign on a winning note as the team defeated the Squirrels of Benin 2-1 at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Wednesday.
Nigeria was given an early scare as the Squirrels of Benin took the lead in the third minute through Stephane Sessegnon’s goal to silenced the vociferous home supporters.
The three-time Africa champions could have leveled parity in the 10th and 13th minutes but Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen failed to make the goal-scoring chances count for the team.
Despite controlling more of the possession, the Squirrels’ defensive organization prevented the Super Eagles from threatening their goalkeeper.
Samuel Chukwueze almost equalized for Nigeria in the 44th minute but his shot was well saved by the Benin goalkeeper.
Nigeria’s efforts were finally rewarded in the 45th minute when the center referee awarded a penalty to the team after Ola Aina was pulled down in the 18’yard box. The resulting penalty was converted by Osimhen.
At the resumption of the second half, Nigeria continued to pile more pressure and was later rewarded as Samuel Kalu dribbled pass three players before slotting the ball home for Super Eagles’ second goal in the 63rd minuteRelated: Joshua To Return Home And Present IBF, WBO, WBA And IBO Belts To Buhari
Osimhen had the opportunity to double his goal but his shot hit the side of the woodwork to the dismay of the home fans.
However, in the 78th minute, the Squirrels of Benin could have levelled the score but the ball also hit the top of the bar.
All attempts for the visitors to equalize proved abortive as the Super Eagles earned the maximum point.
In the other Group Game Lesotho and Sierra Leone drew 1:1
Today all of Africa will be involved in trying to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Games will unfold throughout the continent. In Nigeria, the Super Eagles return to Uyo to square up against the Squirrels of Benin in the opening match of the qualifying series.
Earlier in the year, coach Gernot Rohr’s men finished in third place at the 2019 edition of the AFCON hosted by Egypt, a championship where Benin made it to the knockout round of the competition for the first time ever, albeit as one of the best third-placed teams in the group.
Nigeria are three-time African champions and huge favourites to claim a big win over coach Michel Dussuyer’s men but as we know there are very few football minnows left on the continent and a Benin team that held its own against Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal, narrowly losing to the latter in Egypt is not one of them.
Return of Nigeria's Team Fast and Furious
Nigeria is happy to welcome back speedy captain Ahmed Musa (above) after a two-month injury layoff as well as defender Kenneth Omeruo. On fire Rangers Joe Aribo (below) is set to make his competitive debut for Nigeria and Rohr will hope the Gers’ midfielder can replicate his goal scoring exploits during the friendlies.
Not your regular Squirrels, these ones can bite
Meanwhile, across the border Coach, Michel Dussuyer has named only 14 players who featured at the AFCON finals in the summer, but notable key players Stephane Sessegnon and Steve Mounie are in the 23-man squad. He has folded in a lot of new blood.
As we know, Skipper Stephane Sessegnon, 35, is the most experienced player in the Beninoise team having featured 79 times for the Squirrels. The Gençlerbirliği of Turkey forward is also his country’s ever highest goalscorer with 23 goals. He is one player, coach Dussuyer will be counting on despite his advanced age.
Benin’s first-ever recorded international match was a 1-0 loss to Nigeria in Dahomey exactly 60 years ago and a mere two weeks after, in the return leg of that fixture in Lagos, the then Red Devil and soon to be named Green Eagles handed their neighbours a 10-1 defeat, Benin’ heaviest till date.
This fixture has become a close affair in recent years however, with Nigeria not scoring more than two goals against Benin in the last 15 years.
The last time this two met in a CHAN qualifier in 2017, the Super Eagles triumphed 2-0 at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
Nigeria are the clear favourites having won each of their last four home matches against the Squirrels. But Benin have shown time and again that they are a stubborn opposition. Anyone expecting an annihilation of the Francophone team should think again.
However, the home team in its return to the Eagles Nest, its unofficial official home in Uyo should have more than enough quality to ensure a hard-fought, narrow victory. Key will be preventing any Away-goals. something that is of utter importance in home and away series.
Awareness Prediction: Nigeria 2 Bennin Republic 0